Mohun Bagan could only manage a 1-1 draw with Indian Arrows in their first ever I-League game hosted at their club ground in the I-League in Kolkata on Friday.
Aser Pierrick Dipanda opened the scoring albeit from a spot-kick in the first half. Rahul Kannoly Praveen equalised within six minutes of the goal to leave Sanjoy Sen under immense pressure at the full-time whistle.
There were two changes on either side. Sony Norde wasn't fit after aggravating his injury in the 0-0 draw with NEROCA FC. The suspended Eze Kingsley also made a comeback as Rana Gharami warmed the bench. Nikhil Kadam was given a run out on the left flank as Ansumana Kromah and Aser Dipanda led the attack for the hosts.
Luis Norton de Matos took charge of the team after his Christmas break as Nongdamba Naorem forced his way into the lineup after his flamboyant goal in the 3-0 thrashing of Shillong Lajong on Boxing Day.
Ansumana Kromah had a couple of chances to give the hosts the lead but failed remarkably as he miscued Abhishek Das' cross into the box and then later failed to hit the target from close range with only the 'keeper to beat.
Raynier Fernandes lobbed the ball into the box but Shilton D'Silva could not make much of that wonderful delivery from his fellow Mumbaikar in the 24th minute. The goal did come in the form of a penalty soon after.
Asish Rai was guilty of bringing down Nikhil Kadam inside the box with what looked like a contact unworthy of a foul but referee Tejas Nagvenkar pointed to the spot. Dipanda had hit the target beating Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem but the goal was disallowed as a Bagan shirt had made his way into the box before the ball was kicked.
The former Shillong Lajong man made no mistake as he repeated the same routine for hosts to put their noses in front.
The joy was short-lived. Sanjeev Stalin triggered Rahim Ali's run on the left channel. The forward had easily beaten his marker Kinshuk Debnath and played it forward for Rahul Kannoly Praveen who wiggled his way in between Eze Kingsley and Ricky Lallawmawma to chip the ball home for the colts.
The midfield duo of Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Jeakson Singh Thounaojam marshalled the game from the centre of the park as the Mariners were left clueless, going into the halftime break.
Surprisingly, Sanjoy Sen did not make any changes at the restart but life was made easier by the mathematical advantage Norton's side provide them with. Amarjit was booked twice within fifteen minutes and the Manipur-born left Arrows with only ten men in the park.
Nongdamba Naorem too had to be brought off which meant Ninthoinganba Meetei was sent on to widen the play, all with half an hour still to go.
Second half substitute Manandeep Singh, making his Mohun Bagan debut this season, made his way into the books of the referee which was a result of an unnecessary bicycle kick outside the box that hit Asish Rai. The defender needed to be stretchered off the field.
Sanjoy Sen threw all his forwards onto the field, first bringing on Azharuddin Mallick and then later adding Chesterpaul Lyngdoh. The former Minerva Punjab man's shot was kept out diligently by Dheeraj.
With the Indian Arrows holding on to the draw, they climbed one spot to sixth with seven points from six games as they travel back to New Delhi to host East Bengal on January 2, 2018.
Mohun Bagan, still unbeaten, sulked to their third consecutive draw and moved to the fourth spot on the table with ten points in their kitty. They host Chennai City FC next but it remains to be seen if Sanjoy Sen gets the sack, with just three days to go for the next outing.